אשירה לה’ כי גאה גאה טו:א The pasuk in Tehillim (13:6) states, ”V’ani b’chasdecha vatachti yagel libi bishuasecha ashirah la’Hashem ki gamal alai, and I have trusted in Your kindness, my heart will rejoice in Your salvation, I will sing to Hashem because He has bestowed [salvation] upon me.” Dovid ha’melech confirms his faith in Hashem’s salvation. The grammatical structure of this pasuk is somewhat perplexing. The first half of the pasuk is obviously an expression of the deep sense of trust that Dovid ha’melech had in Hashem even before Hashem saved him from his troubles, because the entire concept of trust in a salvation only makes sense before the salvation comes to fruition. If the salvation has already occurred, though, one doesn’t need faith or trust! However, the pasuk’s continuation – that Dovid rejoiced in his heart about Hashem’s salvation – is formulated in the present tense. Finally, the pasuk concludes with the words “ki gamal alai, for He has bestowed upon me”. This last segment of the pasuk is presented in the past tense, seemingly referring to a situation wherein the salvation has already taken place. So when is it that Dovid ha’melech is rejoicing in his heart? Is it before or after the salvation?! If it is prior to the salvation taking place, then it is not consistent with the end of the pasuk that Dovid will sing praise after he gets saved; and if it is talking about after Dovid got saved, then why is the former segment written in the present tense? The Emek Bracha (pg.124) cites an explanation from the Brisker Rav in the name of the latter’s father, Reb Chaim Brisker: due to Dovid ha’melech’s lofty level of trust in Hashem, he already felt jubilant in his heart even while still in need of the salvation. However, to actually express that jubilation in the form of singing praise to Hashem, for that bitachon (trust) is not enough. Prior to the actual salvation, it is not yet in place to actually express shirah (song of praise) to Hashem. The salvation has to actually come; only then is it appropriate to sing praise to Hashem. Accordingly, the pasuk is referring to both stages of the salvation process, before and after. The first half of the pasuk is saying that Dovid’s faith was so great that he was already rejoicing in his heart in anticipation of the salvation. However, the song of praise and gratitude was only sung after Dovid actually experienced the salvation.
Interestingly enough, from my grandfather (Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik), I heard a different explanation of this pasuk, also in the name of his grandfather, Reb Chaim Brisker! The way I heard it, is that Reb Chaim said even shirah can be appropriate despite the salvation having not yet occurred. Accordingly, the entire pasuk is talking about what Dovid felt and did before the salvation. Dovid rejoiced in his heart and also sang out to Hashem lyrics of praise. So then why does the end of the pasuk speak in the past tense, as though the salvation has already occurred? Because Dovid sang to Hashem as if he had already been saved. For Dovid ha’melech, his bitachon was so strong, that it was as if the salvation had already occurred, such that he could even express his rejoicing in concrete song and praise!
This amazing chiddush (novel thought or idea) – namely, that the bitachon has the power to bring a person to a level wherein he can sing praises to Hashem as if the salvation has already happened – has many sources and proofs.
For example, there is the Rashi in Tehillim (18:4) on the pasuk that says, “mehulal ekrah Hashem umin oyvai ivasheiah, with praises I call unto Hashem, and I will be saved from my enemies.” Rashi explains that Dovid ha’melech said Hallel before he was delivered from his enemies because he had absolute trust that Hashem would extricate him from his predicament. Rashi clearly states that, as a result of bitachon, it is appropriate to sing praise even before the salvation actually occurs.
The primary substantiation for the concept of being able to say shirah even before the miracle takes place is from our parsha. The Targum Yonason, and, even more clearly, the Mechilta (14:13-14) records an interchange between the Jewish People and Moshe Rabbeinu. Standing at the edge of the sea, the People asked Moshe Rabbeinu what they should do? To which Moshe responded, “you should praise Hashem and sing shirah to Him as it says, ashirah la’Hashem ki gaoh gaah.” The implication, clearly, is that Klal Yisrael sang at least part of the shirah of Az Yashir before the sea split. Even if we accept the more traditional understanding of the sequence of events that occurred at the Splitting of the Sea, namely that Klal Yisrael sang shirah only after the sea split and they emerged therefrom, there is still a proof for this concept from a comment of the Shelah ha’kadosh. The Shelah writes that the way of tzaddikim is that, once Hashem promises them something good, they immediately sing shirah and praise to Hashem. This practice of tzaddikim, elaborates the Shelah, is contingent on their level of bitachon in Hashem. Because Klal Yisrael’s faith and trust in Hashem wasn’t yet so strong at that point, they only sang shirah after Hashem brought His promise to fruition and saved them from the pursuing Egyptians. However, concludes the Shelah, when the tidings of Mashiach’s imminent arrival will be announced, at that point Klal Yisrael’s level of emunah and bitachon will be on such a level that they will sing shirah immediately, even before Mashiach actually arrives! (From Reb Chaim Rosen)
Quotables “As much as the desire to dwell in the house of Hashem all my life is embedded in every fiber of my being, so too should it be for you as well, and even more!” (Said to a talmid on Purim)
Vignettes “I was one of the many talmidim that merited to have a once a week chavrusah with Rav Twersky. Spanning almost eleven years, this weekly, private learning session lasted until the last week of Rav Twersky’s life. Over the course of those eleven years, we learned many different subjects. Sometimes we learned Gemara. Most of the time we learned various writings of the Maharal. During Elul, we usually learned selected sections of Shaarei Teshuvah.
Rav Meshulam Twersky, Rav Twersky’s eldest son, got married right in the beginning of Cheshvan 5765 (2004). The first time we learned together that zman was 6 Cheshvan (October 21st). Rav Twersky entered the room, and said, “Let’s learn Mesilas Yesharim.” Under his breath, I heard him add, “I have to keep afloat.” I expected that we would start from the beginning, but I was in for a surprise. Rav Twersky said, “Everyone starts from the beginning, but let’s start from perek 13.” That chapter is the one that addresses the topic of perishus, distancing oneself from materialism. Quite deep into the Ramchal’s progression of climbing the ladder of avodas Hashem! My feeling at the time was that is where Rav Twersky was up to in his personal avodah, and he was letting me “come along for the ride”. We learned to nearly the end of the sefer.
In the middle of perek 18, which deals with midas ha’chassidus (piety), the Ramchal explains that a truly devoted, pious individual will do whatever is in his power to give nachas to Hashem. The truly devoted and pious individual extends himself to the utmost in every mitzvah in every possible way. When we read this, Rav twersky got excited, saying, “You know, lots of people are particular to fulfill the mitzvah of dalet minim (lulav & esrog, etc.) by picking up multiple sets of varying angles of hiddur. And they settle with simply picking each set up. Nobody does proper naanuim (shaking in the different directions) on every set. But, I heard that Rav Shimshon Pincus not only does naanium with every set of dalet minim, he also does the hakafos (circling the bimah)!”
Hakafos is just a minhag. Rav Pincus wanted to fulfill the mitzvah of dalet minim in the most mehudar way possible, so he took many sets. But that itself wasn’t enough for him. Even on these extra sets, he didn’t forgo doing naanuim, and would not even overlook the minhag aspect of the mitzvah of doing hakafos. Rav Twersky told me this anecdote with such emotion. I felt there was something very deep behind Rav Twersky’s fondness of this story. On the spot, I jotted what down what he said on the side of my Mesilas Yesharim so I wouldn’t forget it.
After Rav Twersky was killed al Kiddush Hashem, I got a glimpse of what may have been going through his mind when he was telling me this story. Reb Avraham Twersky, Rav Twersky’s youngest child, disclosed to us a secret. He told us that Rav Twersky requested and received special permission to do proper naanuim on Rav Meir Berlin’s many mehudar sets of dalet minim. After davening, Rav Twersky would go into a side room, and without any publicity or fanfare, would do full naanuim with each set. Rav Twersky’s love of the mitzvah prompted him to go the extra mile to do proper naanuim on each set. It seems to me that Rav Twersky was so impressed by Rav Pincus for “outdoing him”. Rav Pincus’s behavior of being particular to do even the hakafos with each set not only didn’t generate jealousy in Rav Twersky, it was just the opposite: it gave Rav Twersky true respect and admiration for a higher level of love for doing mitzvos!” (Reb Chaim Rosen)
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